Essay on The Connection Between Music and Religion

Essay on The Connection Between Music and Religion

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It is impossible to assume that music and religion are not linked in some way or another in any society or culture on earth. This is not to say that all religions embrace the use of music in their worship to their god or gods, in fact it is quiet the opposite. While some religions use music to praise and worship, other religions believe music diverges the attention of followers away from their god, and even see it as a tool of the devil.

Let's first identify some cultures that embrace music into their religion and beliefs, as most religions do. In Malagasy society (Madagascar) negative attributes such as sickness are often associated with spirits. To identify these bad spirits the people hold ceremonies, Tremba, to communicate with the spirits through a medium. The ceremony begins with music and is accompanied by participation from others to call the spirit out. "Increased hand-clapping called rumba and shouts of encouragement are specially suited to call the spirit out." (Schmidhafer, p. 4). When the spirit has entered the medium the music stops and the spirit greets the people surrounding him and answers question. More music is played between questions to the spirit and again when the spirit exits the medium.

Another similar ceremony, called bilo, is held to heal the sick by dancing. It is believed that these ceremonies would hold no purpose and would not allow communication with the spirits if it were not for the music. "The musicians are the ones that induce the trance; even the most competent healer cannot do any good without the musicians." (Schmidhafer, p. 5).

Other cultures, mainly in South Asia, also use music in trance ceremonies to communicate with the spirit world. Nepoli Shaman use music in t...

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...pecific needs of the participants in the ceremony. At the beginning of the ceremony the music may start off slow and mellow. As time progresses, the tempo and volume will increase to lure the spirit into the medium's body. When the spirit and medium become one the music may stop abruptly or became very soft, until it is time for the spirit to leave again.

Works Cited

Ellingson, Ter. "Music and Religion." Encyclopedia of Religion. Ed. Collier MacMillan. New York: MacMillan, 1987.

Roche, David. "Music and Trance." Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Ed. Alison Arnold. 5 vols. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 2000.

Schmidhofer, August. "The Great Island."

Shiloah, Amnon, Music in the World of Islam : A Socio-cultural Study. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1995.

Storr, Anthony. Music and the Mind. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992.

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